Posts Tagged ‘prompts’

Decisions, Decisions

Good morning, squiders!

If you’ll remember, in February I finished up my serial scifi story in one of my writing communities, a story I started in January of 2009 and hence had been working on for 10 years.

(I really should back it up in a word document and see what the final word count is. I’d bet it’s about 70K or so.)

I don’t think I’ll do anything with the story–it kind of feels like I’ve spent enough of my life on it already, and I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily worth the time to revise and so forth to try and publish it.

Plus it wasn’t my favorite story idea to begin with. I just felt like I needed something, a story I could work on periodically for said writing community (you’re supposed to post at least once a month), and so I put it together off a weird dream I had once.

I requested a few months off after the completion of the story, which I was readily given, but it’s now six months later and I find myself at a crossroads.

A couple, actually.

The first one is: do I want to stay in this community?

It’s a LJ writing prompt community that I joined back in 2006. In 2006 I joined a lot of different writing communities–I was fresh out of college and living in a new state where I knew no one except my significant other, and I found myself falling into a depressive spiral. So I threw myself into writing as a coping mechanism, which worked pretty well, all things considered. I made a lot of friends, many of whom I still talk to today, and it’s really the point where writing went from a hobby to a more serious pursuit.

And the community has generally been great. The other writers are talented, so it’s nice to read their stuff, and the feedback and encouragement I’ve gotten over the years. And it has been a good way to ensure I’m writing somewhat regularly, especially if life has been otherwise problematic.

But is it still helping me meet my goals? Would it be better to use the time I spend every month on something else?

The community has quieted down lately, too, with only a half dozen people actively posting, if that.

The second question is: if I stay in the community, what do I write?

Do I start another novel-length serial story, posting 600-1500 words a month for the next ten years? Do I actually rely on the prompts and write little drabbles and shorts that I may or may not want to do something with? (That’s what I did for the first few years. There’s some I like, but not enough to do anything with.)

Do I use it like the RaTs system on WriYe and focus on writing drabbles in universes that already exist?

Do I go for a serial, but something shorter, something designed to only last a year or so?

I’m not sure. Nothing’s jumping out at me. But I feel like I’m reaching a point where the decision needs to be made.

Thoughts, squiders?

Trying Out a New Challenge

It looks like writing around life is winning the nonfiction topic poll, so if you want one of the other ones more, now’s the time to vote! I’ll probably start that up next week.

So, it’s April! Yay, April!

April is one of the Camp Nanowrimo months, so like most camp months I have signed up with a random goal (in this case, 15,000 words). I appreciate that Camp lets you pick whatever word count you want, but unlike Nano itself, it doesn’t have a lot of momentum behind it so success is random. Looking back at my camp history, I’ve “won” 3 out of 9 attempts. (I also reached my word count goal an additional time but apparently didn’t verify for a win, and didn’t write anything another.)

For a random statistic, 10,000 words seems to be my most common goal, and also the one I hit the most. One year I picked 50K and only wrote 2K, and another I wrote 18K but had a goal of 30K.

There’s really no excuse. Unlike some challenges, Camp lets you update/change your goal up until the last five days or something.

This April, aside from Camp (the 15,000 word count goal is for working on the sequel to City of Hope and Ruin, finishing up the rewrite of Book One, and writing a short story), I also signed up for a challenge called 30 Days of Writing run by Shut Up & Write.

Thus far, I’m not terribly impressed by the challenge. I get daily emails with writing prompts, but if you guys have been around for a while, you know I hate random writing prompts. I believe writing prompts have a place and a purpose, but if I’m trying to work on my fantasy novel, giving me a prompt to write a journal entry from an animal’s point of view is next to worthless.

I’ve got to wonder if they’re useful to anybody? I suppose, if you’re starting out, that any writing might be good practice. But it does seem like a pretty small percentage of people who could be participating in the challenge.

(There’s also the argument that forcing yourself to write every day may not be the best thing for everybody.)

Doing anything new and fun this April, squiders? Participating in Camp or this 30 Days of Writing thing? Thoughts on either?

10 Writing Prompts to Get Your Day Going

If you troll about the Internet, you’ll see that a lot of writing advice out there, if you want to make a career out of writing, says to be as productive as possible. More stuff written = more practice and hopefully better stories = more material to send out to readers = loyal fans = success, or something along those general lines.

Since I have small mobile ones, I’m not terribly productive, so I can’t speak to the truth of this sentiment, but I do spend a lot of time gathering writing prompts for more stories than I’ll ever be able to write, so I thought I’d share them with you.

Also, you might look into some short story challenges if you’re interested in getting some practice in. The 12 short story writing challenge has a goal of writing one short story every month for a year. That’s doable even for someone like me. If you have more time or inclination, you might try the Ray Bradbury challenge, where you try to write one short story a week (and also do lots of reading).

Anyway, on to the prompts!

Sweet Home Chicago by TheEnderling

Nokken by Kim Myatt

Creepy gif from Pinterest

Fantasy Bg 77 by Moonglowlilly

Tumblr post by mspaintadverturing

Ball Thingy by Charly Chive

Man, it is surprisingly hard to find the original artists for Pinterest pins. Just a reminder to always credit the artist!

Happy writing, squiders!

Writing Serially

I belong to a prompt community.  I joined, oh, four years ago or so with the idea that I’d be able to use the prompts to stir the creative juices.  It hasn’t really worked out.  Oh, it’s not the community’s fault.  They are awesome, talented writers and the prompts are usually very interesting.  Something about the medium just doesn’t work for me.

Oh, sure, sometimes a prompt jolts something out of the creative centers of my brain.  When I joined originally, you had to post once every three months to stay a member, and I could usually manage something in that time frame.  But a few years ago they changed the requirement to once a month, and I knew the likelihood of ye olde brain coming up with something purely prompt based that often was pushing it.

(This is not to say that I have problems with ideas.  If anything, there are too many ideas floating around.  They just tend to be novel-shaped.)

So I decided to work on a serial novel, with a new part going up every month (or more often if I got around to it).  I’d already completed Hidden Worlds serially, so I knew it was something that I could do.

Two years later, I’m still working on that story.  I use the prompts to direct the next part, and feedback has generally been very good.

I outline very vaguely so this works well for me.

What does writing serially do for you?  I use it as a side project which helps me get through harder sections of my main projects.  It also allows you to work on something a relaxed pace and gain readers over time.

Things you should note about serial writing:

1.  Do it consistently.
I put up a new section every month.  This means my readers can expect a new section on a regular basis, that I know when it’s due so I’m thinking about/working on it when I should be, and that it doesn’t get eaten by other projects/life.

2.  Outline, at least a little.
The thing with writing serially is that you need to have an idea where the story is going to go, what kind of story it is, what promises you want to make to your readers.  What do you do if you get 25K in and realize you’ve written yourself in to a corner?  Alternately, if you make it three-fourths of the way into the story and do a genre change out of right field, people will not be happy.

3.  Reread the last few sections before picking back up.
This helps you remember where you are, what you named your characters, and what you were thinking when you left off.

Some publications are taking serial stories on now.  If you’d like to try for one of those, you need to have the entire story at least outlined before submitting.  They will not be as lenient as my prompt community if something goes off-kilter.

What about you, Squiders?  Ever write something serially?  What have your experiences been?